This week, Costa Rica cut off official diplomatic ties with Taiwan and opened them with mainland China. Business leaders cringed this week as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper once again pressed Chinese President Hu Jintao over "shortcomings" in democracy and human rights when the two met at the G8 summit in Germany. On Friday, the G8 leaders agreed to allocate 60 billion U.S. dollars "over the coming years" to finance the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and a further 500 million dollars for the "Education for All" program in Africa. Development and aid experts, however, consider this new pledge as a step backwards, compared to the promises made at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to double development assistance by 2010.
How are these three stories related? At first glance, they might not appear to be and I might not have been thinking of such connections either if I had not recently read Joshua Kurlantzick's "Charm Offensive" (Yale University Press, 2007).